A returnee from Europe, Murshid Alom (45), who had suffered from the fear of social stigma, sadness, anxiety, and other family conflicts, regained a new and normal life in his home country through psycho-social, economic and medical support provided under the Prottasha Project.
Hailing from Musapur, Companiganj, Noakhali district, Murshid Alom is the youngest of eight (8) siblings. As his father’s economic condition was getting worse continually, Murshid Alom had to drop out of school after grade five and started supporting his family through agricultural work from an early age. Gradually, he realized that migration and employment abroad is his only hope for bringing progressive change in his life. He paid BDT 500,000 which he acquired by selling his land and borrowing money from relatives to a middleman. In 2009, he went to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and began working there. Four (4) months went by, but he never received any payment from his employer and he decided to leave that company and joined another. All the while he had to survive from money sent by his family from Bangladesh. Just when he decided to return to Bangladesh because he was still not being paid by the new company, he met a foreign broker who promised to take him to Germany in exchange for BDT 200,000.
He started his journey from Dubai and travelled across Iraq, Turkey and finally, he reached Germany. On his way from UAE to Iraq, he became physically ill. On top of that when Murshid reached Iraq, the broker demanded an additional BDT 400,000 for rescuing and sending him to Germany. Murshid’s family could only paid BDT 200,000 to the broker’s group. With that Murshid finally began his journey from Turkey towards Germany. Even in Germany, he remained unemployed and undocumented and with the help of local Bangladeshi Association of Germany, he managed to get accommodation and after six (6) months of struggling, he also got a job as a general labourer in a company. Even though the payment was insignificant, Murshid was doing better at that time and got engaged in various self-development skills.
‘If the Prottasha project had not provided this support, I would not be able to lead my family out of the crisis’- Murshid Alom
His small yet good fortune soon ran out as he did not have any proper documentation which landed him in a refugee camp. This affected him psychologically and physicallyand the the authority had to provide him with first aid services for his immediate recovery. As his condition was worsening, he took the help offered by IOM to come back to Bangladesh on 23rd March 2017 through the Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) programme.
Upon return, the field organizer of Companiganj upazila was provided a list of returnees for profiling under the Noakhali RSC. From that list, the RSC counsellor made an appointment with him for his needs assessment and listed him as a profiled beneficiary on January 1, 2018. As Murshid was suffering from both physical and mental trauma, first he was provided with treatment for kidney issues worth about BDT 100,000 as medical support from September 29 to October 3rd in 2019 at the Bangladesh Japan Friendship Medical Services Limited, in Dhanmondi, Dhaka.
As part of economic reintegration, he was provided with grocery products worth BDT 90,000 in February 2020 for his grocery shop in front of his house which wasn’t running well due to the shortage of goods. He was greatly struggling to manage his family expenses each month. Hence, accessing economic support from the project not only helped him to earn higher income which was equivalent to BDT 10,500 on average each month; he also received financial literacy training as part of that support from RSC Noakhali which helped him to run his business properly.
But during COVID-19 pandemic, he too, like many others, fell into a pit of a financial crisis. He became worried as his income fell from BDT 10,500 on average to BDT 8,000 BDT during the lockdown. As a part of the COVID-19 emergency support under the Prottasha project, Murshid Alom was provided with BDT10, 000 as stimulus grant to help maintain his family expenses and assets from the project. He used this grant to maintain the balance between his business and family expenses, and experienced a higher return than before (BDT 8,500 on average each month). Although he knows that he has a long way to go if he wants to earn as much as before the COVID-19 period, Murshid Alom is still hopeful and excited for a better future. He said, ‘I am really grateful to Prottasha project for all its contribution in my life in Bangladesh’.
“Bangladesh: Sustainable Reintegration and Improved Migration Governance (Prottasha)” is a project funded by the European Union, implemented by IOM Bangladesh in partnership with BRAC. The project is led by the Government of Bangladesh.